The following associations of waterworks along the main European rivers represent the water protection and drinking water interests of more than 115 million people in 17 countries through which these rivers pass: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Around 170 water companies have joined forces in the form of these associations. They have a common strategy and vision for the sustainable and prevention-oriented provision of drinking water. This strategy is set out in this memorandum.

Water must be protected for its own sake. Nobody has a right to pollute water bodies. Rather, it is a duty to return water to the water cycle in a clean state. This means that there are no parties that profit from a good water quality, only parties that are responsible for a situation that requires improvement. This aspect must be taken into account when implementing the polluter pays principle.

The water companies want water resources to be used sustainably. The provision of drinking water must be given priority over all other uses. Many water companies depend on bodies of surface water as their source. Surface water can potentially be harmed in many different ways. The explicit goal is to achieve a water quality in the rivers used that enables drinking water to be produced using only
natural purification steps.

This memorandum is intended to assist and guide decision makers in authorities and political bodies with regard to the continuing necessity to improve the quality of water used to produce drinking water. The memorandum is also intended to contribute to a transparent public debate regarding the necessity of a precautionary protection of water bodies in order to guarantee that the safe and sustainable provision
of drinking water without the need for complicated technical measures and high financial costs will remain possible for future generations.

In order to protect surface water resources used to provide drinking water, the following eight demands must be met:

  1. The provision of drinking water must be given priority above all other uses of water bodies.
  2. Water protection targets must be adopted that permit drinking water to be produced using only natural treatment steps.
  3. Comply with the standstill principle and ensure the further improvement of water quality.
  4. Take negative effects on the quality of drinking water due to anthropogenic substances and their degradation and transformation products into account as a criterion in the tests carried out for the approval and registration of chemical substances.
  5. Implement the polluter pays principle and avoid covering costs according to the beneficiary pays principle.
  6. Optimize self-monitoring of sewerage systems and the management of risks.
  7. Intensify governmental monitoring of water resources according to parameter coverage and measurement
    frequencies from the perspective of drinking water interests.
  8. Continuously adjust the monitoring of water bodies to reflect new knowledge and information.